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Guitar legend Eddie Van Halen dies of throat cancer aged 65

Written by on 6 October 2020

Rock star and guitar great Eddie Van Halen has died aged 65 after a “long and arduous battle” with throat cancer, his son has said.

In a statement, his son Wolf said: “I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning.

“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.

“My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss.

“I love you so much, Pop.”

Image:
Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth in Chicago in November 1981

Van Halen formed the band of the same name in California in 1972, with David Lee Roth on vocals, his brother on drums, and Michael Anthony on bass.

The band are best known among a mainstream audience for their crossover hit single Jump, with its signature keyboard line.

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The album it was taken from, 1984, sold 10 million copies in the US alone.

Other Van Halen hits include Why Can’t This Be Love and Runnin’ with the Devil.

Michael Jackson also recruited Eddie Van Halen for the distinctive guitar parts on Beat It.

Eddie Van Halen had throat cancer
Image:
Eddie Van Halen had been battling cancer for years

Tributes have come from some of rock’s biggest names, with Kiss frontman Gene Simmons tweeting: “My heart is broken.

“Eddie was not only a Guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul. Rest in peace, Eddie! …Eddie Van Halen Dead at 65 from Cancer.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea posted: “Oh man, bless his beautiful creative heart.

“I love you Eddie Van Halen, an LA boy, a true rocker. I hope you jam with Jimi tonight. Break through to the other side my brother.”

Whitesnake’s David Coverdale called him an “astonishing musician”, tweeting: “Thank You For Your Extraordinary Gifts You Chose To Share With Us…XXX”

Van Halen had been battling the disease for years after being being diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2000.

He blamed it on the metal picks he used to hold in the same spot in his mouth.

Born in Amsterdam, his family moved to Pasadena in California in the 1960s and a decade later the band were established regulars on the LA music scene.

Their big break came when Warner Brothers signed them in 1977, with their eponymous album released a year later.

The four-piece became one of the biggest bands of the 1980s but Roth was replaced in 1985 by singer Sammy Hagar, before rejoining temporarily in 1996, and again in 2006.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.